WASHINGTON – Kristen Clarke, President Joe Biden’s decide to be the Justice Department’s civil rights chief, is promising to make racial equality a high precedence, drawing on her experiences as a longtime civil rights legal professional and the mom of a Black teenager.
“As I look to my own son … I remain committed to the promise of working every day to build a world of equal opportunity for all,” Clarke mentioned in a ready opening assertion. “A world where no 16-year-old is the target of hateful language. A world where no young man is racially profiled. I dream of a world that values his mind, his heart … and does not push him aside because of the color of his skin. I dream of that for every child in America.”
Clarke’s confirmation hearing, which is predicted to be contentious, begins on Wednesday.
If confirmed, Clarke can be the primary Black girl to fill the put up. She is anticipated to play a pivotal function within the Biden administration’s efforts to reinvigorate the Justice Department’s investigations of police departments, in addition to within the prosecution of hate crimes and enforcement of voting rights legal guidelines.
Her nomination follows a summer season of social justice protests prompted by deaths and accidents of Black women and men throughout police encounters, together with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. This week, protests erupted in Minneapolis after a police officer shot and killed Daunte Wright throughout a visitors cease.
COVID-related hate crimes in opposition to Asian Americans have additionally escalated, and conservative states have began an aggressive effort to cross legal guidelines that advocates say would make it tougher for minority voters to vote.
Since her nomination, Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, has been accused of anti-Semitism by critics drawing from an incident 25 years in the past, when Clarke’s scholar group at Harvard University hosted an creator accused of selling anti-Semitic views. Clarke has mentioned she regretted inviting the creator, Tony Martin.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who’s Jewish, has defended Clarke. “I’m a pretty good judge of what an anti-Semite is, and I do not believe that she is an anti-Semite. And I do not believe she is discriminatory in any sense,” Garland mentioned throughout his confirmation hearing.
Conservative media shops have additionally honed in on a virtually three-decade previous letter that Clarke co-wrote for the Harvard Crimson when she was president of the Black Students Association on the college. Clarke, responding to the 1994 ebook “The Bell Curve,” which hyperlinks race and intelligence, wrote that melanin of their pores and skin offers Blacks “superior physical and mental abilities.”
In a current interview with the Forward, Clarke mentioned her intention in claiming Black superiority was “to express an equally absurd point of view – fighting one ridiculous absurd racist theory with another ridiculous absurd theory.”
Clarke and Vanita Gupta, one other Biden nominee for a high job on the Justice Department and in addition a lady of shade, have drawn unusually bitter criticisms from Republicans and conservative teams earlier than their confirmation hearings. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has signaled he meant to discover Clarke’s views and query her suitability to steer the Civil Rights Division.
In her opening assertion, Clarke touted her expertise in advancing civil rights. “In every role I’ve held, I have worked with and for people of all backgrounds – regardless of race, national origin, religion, or disability status,” she mentioned.
Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, started her profession as a Justice Department lawyer, prosecuting police brutality, hate crimes and human trafficking circumstances and imposing voting rights legal guidelines. She continued advocacy work on voting rights on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and was additionally the civil rights enforcement officer for the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson